Hewitt gains semifinal berth

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/G/Genericportrait.jpg' class='caption'> Lleyton Hewitt has the No. 1 ranking. Now he has a semifinal berth at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, thanks to Spaniard Carlos Moya. Hewitt, the defendin

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Lleyton Hewitt has the No. 1 ranking. Now he has a semifinal berth at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, thanks to Spaniard Carlos Moya. Hewitt, the defending champion in this eight-man tournament, gained a spot in the semis when Moya outlasted French Open champion Albert Costa 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-4. If Costa had won, Hewitt's season would have been over. Juan Carlos Ferrero captured the final semifinal spot when he downed Jiri Novak 7-5, 6-3. The round-robin portion of the tournament ended when Switzerland's Roger Federer beat Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson of Sweden, an alternate for the injured Andre Agassi, 6-3, 7-5. Hewitt, who clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking on Thursday when Agassi double-faulted on match point in his battle with Ferrero, will take on Federer on Saturday. The other semifinal pits Moya against Ferrero. Moya squashed all speculation that he might not play his best so that Costa, a fellow Spaniard, could win and reach the semifinals. Instead, Moya's best was just good enough to run his record to 3-0 on the indoor purple court. What began as a sloppy affair turned into a taut, well-played contest - until the last game. Then, seemingly ready to send it into a decisive third-set tiebreak, Costa returned to the form he displayed three hours earlier as he committed three unforced errors, then tried an ill-advised drop shot that Moya turned into a game-winning volley. Neither player was sharp in the beginning, but the play picked up considerably in the tiebreak. Each held serve until the 15th point when Moya pounded a forehand into the corner to gain a mini-break. He won the next point, and the set, with a service winner. The match was 69 minutes old and Costa was just getting into gear. He broke Moya in the second game en route to a 3-0 lead. When he lost his serve in the seventh game, he broke right back for a 5-3 margin, then held to level the match. Both players were tested in the final set, struggling to hold serve. Then came the errors off Costa's racket. He lost the first point when he sailed a forehand long. He did the same thing on the third point, and fell behind 15-40 - double match point - when yet another forehand went into the net. Costa tried a drop shot on match point, but Moya got there easily and scooped the ball down the line. Costa returned it, but Moya was waiting at the net and dumped an easy backhand volley into the empty court. Costa finished the tournament with a 1-2 record. Hewitt was 2-1 and Marat Safin, the fourth member of the Red Group, lost all three of his matches. On Thursday, Agassi, the only player who had a mathematical chance to pass Hewitt, lost 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (6) to Ferrero. Hewitt then beat Safin 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Agassi's second straight defeat also clinched a semifinal berth for Federer, who stopped Novak 6-0, 4-6, 6-2. Shortly after his loss, Agassi withdrew from Friday's round-robin match. (AP)

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